JohnC

HELP! On 2nd Starter, spins but won't engage...

23 posts in this topic

History....

1991 Dodge Dakota Sport 4x4 5.2L V8 starter stops working. Don't recall symptoms.

Bought a new one from Car Quest and had it installed. It works for a little while then it stops working. Spins but won't engage flywheel from what I can tell.

Take it back to the shop, they go get a new starter, and then install it. Drove around a little over a few months. Go to start it today and same thing. this starter spins but won't engage.

I rotated the engine by hand to see if it might be some broken teeth on the flywheel and no dice. Replaced the starter relay in the fuse box, no dice.

I have a new battery, new alternator, new PCM, new starter relay, and this is the 2nd new starter.

WTF could be causing this?

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A starter that spins but doesn't turn the engine over is not engaging the flywheel.  If you've rotated the flywheel to eliminate a few missing teeth, then it's the "bendix" either not pushing out or not holding.  Most mopar starters of that era are the "nippendenso" type mini-starter.  They were used on almost all Chryslers, Toyotas, LUV trucks, ect. and I've seen hundreds of failures:  ONE failure of the starter motor windings and the rest were failures of the contacts in the starter solenoid which causes a "click" but NO starter motion.  So, your repeat failure of "starter turns but engine doesn't" is MOST uncommon (IMO).

Because that's so uncommon, I wonder if I'm wrong about it having a nippendenso mini starter or if you might be wrong about the starter turning.   So, does your starter look like this:  Related image

and...,how do you know it's turning?

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15 hours ago, Ashley P said:

A starter that spins but doesn't turn the engine over is not engaging the flywheel.  If you've rotated the flywheel to eliminate a few missing teeth, then it's the "bendix" either not pushing out or not holding.  Most mopar starters of that era are the "nippendenso" type mini-starter.  They were used on almost all Chryslers, Toyotas, LUV trucks, ect. and I've seen hundreds of failures:  ONE failure of the starter motor windings and the rest were failures of the contacts in the starter solenoid which causes a "click" but NO starter motion.  So, your repeat failure of "starter turns but engine doesn't" is MOST uncommon (IMO).

Because that's so uncommon, I wonder if I'm wrong about it having a nippendenso mini starter or if you might be wrong about the starter turning.   So, does your starter look like this:  Related image

and...,how do you know it's turning?

When I turn the key to start it, it sounds like it spins like a drill.

It's similar to the picture you posted.

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Whereas the starter spins,

Whereas the flywheel doesn't,

Whereas the flywheel has been rotated to eliminate missing teeth,

You are hereby ordered to get a GOOD starter.

 

JohnC likes this

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Remove it and bench test it. If the bendix isn't shooting out, then it's shot again. Then you need to start looking for other reasons why it's kiulling starters.

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IF the starter turns and the flywheel doesn't, what does a bench test help?  Are you planning to rebuild the starter yourself?    If self repair, I think I've got a bucket of parts and I hope to travel through Nashville soon.

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A bench test will show what the actual failure is on the starter, if any.  If the bendix is throwing the pinion out, then it's most likely not starter and he can save some money.  If it is the starter, it's a pretty easy rebuild.  We are just trying to save him money instead of just throwing new parts at the car.  I thought that's what mechanics did was troubleshoot problems instead of throwing parts at the problem

You recommended he buy a "Good Starter" above.  There is only one "manufacturer" for the Nippondenso starter for his vehicle.  Hundreds of rebuilders, but they all source the same rebuild parts.  So what constitutes a "good" rebuild vs. a bad one and how would anyone know what's good or bad by going to the parts store.

But what do me and Disney know, we're just dumb engineers that mechanics love to bitch about.  We obviously don't anything about cars.  But then again you don't see monthly posts from us asking how to do our jobs.

Disney likes this

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No, I must have come off wrong, I just want John to have a "quick and accurate fix" 'cause he's already wasted enough time/money/effort.

I think the drive gear is on a sprag, so even if the gear "pops out" and rotates on the bench, without loading the gear it's not a complete test.  A better test would be....on the engine, IMO.

How to tell a good rebuild vs bad rebuild...after you've put on a couple of brand X that fail, to go brand Y?  

Hey, I bitch about the dumb engineers, not you guys!  It's only the ones at Ford and Nissan that flunked outta middle school....oops.

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I've already thrown parts at it. Two rebuilt starters to be exact.

I want to figure this out because I'm tired of it breaking down on me when I want to drive it.

Been using it in bad weather and when i had to haul stuff. :yes:

 

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John, you might want to check the voltage on the starter cable when it's trying.  Maybe you've got a voltage drop that's screwing up the engagement.  Doubtful, but you do have an unusual problem (for a 'denso starter, anyway).

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5 minutes ago, Ashley P said:

John, you might want to check the voltage on the starter cable when it's trying.  Maybe you've got a voltage drop that's screwing up the engagement.  Doubtful, but you do have an unusual problem (for a 'denso starter, anyway).

When cranking and not cranking, what voltages should I see?

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1 hour ago, JohnC said:

When cranking and not cranking, what voltages should I see?

Battery voltage when not cranking.  Some unkown voltage way lower when it's attempting but failing to crank the engine.  Voltage drop on a working starter might be a couple volt drop.  Again, doubtful, but it's a small possibility, the test takes $0 and could be a cause for multiple starters doing the same thing.

Edited by Ashley P

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See the vid for description of the plunger and spring that pushes to gear into the flywheel. 

For the starter to get power to turn, the plunger has to be pulled in so that the contacts can pass current.  By that point the spring should have pushed the gear into the flywheel.  If you truly do have a starter motor that is spinning and a good flywheel that's not, you've got a failure in the gear reduction (so the drive gear doesn't rotate) or maybe a broken spring that can't push the drive gear into the flywheel.  I've never seen either failure out of MANY starter replacements.  (This is my favorite starter BTW, IMO they are VERY reliable (other than the simple to replace contacts.))

When these starters fail, do they ever work again? 

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On 1/23/2018 at 6:46 AM, mstrpth said:

:popcorn: 

You're gonna run outta popcorn before the credits roll.

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Hey John, I'm replacing a nippendenso starter and thought of this post.  Did you get if figured out?

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